Released: Feb 16, 2012
Size: 72.4 MB
You won’t need to play Beat Sneak Bandit for long to realise its creators are every bit as nimble as their protagonist. It is a bright, angular comic-book world. It’s a game assured enough in the quality of its design that the rewards it offers are entirely intrinsic – and its confidence is well-placed.
You play the Beat Sneak Bandit, breaking into themansionofDuke Clockface. He has, for some dark and notorious reasons, stolen all the clocks from Pulsebury. Your job is to take back all the clocks without being caught.
The ingenuity of the level design is appreciable, with clocks placed in the most elusive of spots, dares you to discover the secret to reaching them. The grunt of a security guard lets you know he’s changing direction, while a mechanical whirr accompanies the clockwork movements of barriers and trapdoors. Successfully hopping through a string of lights that illuminate on successive beats offers relief and satisfaction in equal measure, and there’s a meticulousness to both setup and execution, as you’d imagine would be the case for a real-life heist. There’s a remarkable consistency to the design even as the levels gets steadily bolder until, after hovering vacuums, teleporters, and levers that freeze time, Simogo throws in a climactic boss battle that is as tough as it is joyous.
Every aspect has been expertly crafted, from the high level game design down to the details of the menus is pretty awesome.
Your buddy Herbie the frog is there to help you on your way. Through a series of charming phone call scenes, Herbie introduces you to all the basics. First you learn that you can only move with the beat, as indicated on screen for those who can’t pick it out by hearing alone. Tapping in time will sneak Bandit across platforms and onto clocks, completing each level as he goes. While Bandit needs to climb, fall, and turn himself about, these tricks are part of grander puzzles.
As you progress through four areas that are dressed up with thematic backdrops, the Duke calls in to taunt you with his newest tricks and traps. You’ll encounter spotlights, which end your robbery attempt if they light up while you’re beneath them. Then there are guards on patrol, who will stop you if they see you. Robots come at you when you sneak across their floor, and they need only move above you to end your spree. The environment is none too simple either, as it’s littered with gates, trap doors and teleport pads. So moving to the beat is only a small part of the challenge. Most of your attention will be paid to planning out a safe route through. Generally it isn’t all that hard to reach the main clock, but there are four smaller clocks scattered in each level, and reaching those always require quite some creative thinking, careful timing and smart gameplay. Moving off beat destroys the one on your floor. Since you move to the beat and so does everything else, planning ahead for where you’ll be and which direction you’ll be facing when you get there is doable, but always more and more challenging.
Beat Sneak Bandit is very forgiving, so no matter your skill you’ll always be able to move forward. When you fail a level a few times, Herbie will check to see if you want to skip it, no harm done. You don’t strictly need to complete any given level to progress, never mind collecting the extra clocks. If you do manage to collect most of the clocks, though, you’ll open up bonus shadow levels that cloak you in silhouette. These are harder than the others by design, and the shadowed world doesn’t make things easier. They are gorgeous, though.
The few cutscenes are beautifully laid out, the levels are designed with a good measure of whimsy, and the animations are adorably matched. Even the interface elements hold to the look of the game perfectly, right down to the last detail. And then, of course, there’s the music. It always has a good beat, and a similar theme runs through each level. But the sound varies between electronic, jazz, funk and more spooky tracks. These are constantly changing from level to level because part of each track is made up of the sounds of all the moving pieces. Patrolling guards make one sound as they move, trapdoors opening and closing make another. Not only is this aurally excellent, it also means you can use your ears to keep track of each moving part.
Beat Sneak Bandit sports 40 main levels and 16 shadow levels. It also has 20GameCenterachievements, most of which encourage you to play in new and challenging ways. Of course, you can also earn one for collecting all the extra clocks, but that’s a challenge that’s quite a lot of fun to work toward.
It’s rare to find a game that does something so original so well, with every element of gameplay and design falling into place. Simogo has pulled it off with Beat Sneak Bandit. According to us it’s a must buy, better still if you can get it from installous.Play, enjoy, and get the clocks.
App Store Link: Beat Sneak Bandit, $2.99 (Universal)